Pierre Gagnaire, Paris 4

January 26, 2010

On January 14, 2010, Linda and I returned to Pierre Gagnaire for dinner. We were seated at the table we had been at several times before by the edge of the raised section in back where we had a good view of most of the dining room and of the waiters going to and from the kitchen. Each table was decorated with two wooden lotuses, something I had not seen before.

For apéritif we ordered glasses of Jacquesson Brut, Cuvée 733, Brut Champagne; very nice. The amuse-gueules arrived quickly.

Seaweed sticks in olive oil; an anchovy strip on a turnip stick; a crisp on a carrot/chorizo purée with a dab of salmon mousse; little hors d’oeuvres. There was also a little cup of passion fruit mousse topped with a red chili wafer (outside the photo.)

We ordered the Menu d’Hiver and looked at the wine list. For our white wine we chose a 2008 “La Petite Côte” Yves Cuilleron Condrieu and for the red a 2005 Chave Saint Joseph which was put into a decanter for us. Both were good examples of their types.

Three types of bread were served to us: baguette, brioche and chestnut flour infused with bacon.

The menu started with
Timbale de haricots tarbais au poivre à queue : huîtres Gillardeau,
saumon Salma, murex, amandes, clams.

Poivrons cambucca, algues kombu.

We asked for the oysters to be left out of this combination of salmon, sea snails and clams with seaweed strips on top. The point of the dish was for the seafood to flavor the Tarbais beans, the traditional bean for cassoulet. Since the ingredients were all top quality, the dish was also.

Escalope de denti pochée au yusu, tranche de foie gras Amère ;
coriandre fraîche, cordifole et poireaux.

Dentex is a flavorful deepwater Mediterranean fish. Here it has been poached in a yuzu (Japanese citrus) broth which is then served alongside. The slice of terrine of foie gras on top adds an unctuous quality; it is separated from the fish by a tomato/leek sauce which provides some moisture and acidity; the heartleaf iceplant provides a contrasting fresh crunchiness.

Noix de Saint-Jacques rôtie et lamelles crues ; bouillon Zezette, risotto
vialone parfumé de ciboulette thaï.
Pousses d’épinard et mange-tout.

Here we have interleaved rounds of cooked and raw scallops. They are on a bed of rice flavored with Thai chives with young spinach underneath. On top are shards of snow peas. A broth made from black rice and mushrooms is poured around it. The successful combination of caramelized and raw scallops was the heart of this dish. The rest put it into sort of an etherial ambience, unnecessary, but the reason one comes to Pierre Gagnaire.

Salpicon de tourteau assaisonné d’un crémeux d’araignée de mer ;
toast craquant de sardine.
Encornets en anneaux juste raidis, piment de Guernica.

Here we have a pile of crabmeat shards in a bisque of a different crab with more shell. Squid rings are scattered about, but they are barely cooked, adding only texture, not flavor. This time all the complications just seemed fussy to me, not enhancing the nice crab.

Bisque d’oursin, poêlée de rouget de roche au vadouvan ; julienne de
kabu, navets boutons d’or braisés.
Galette craquante d’avocat, râpée de navet glacial lié de ricotta.

Here we have chunks of a rock fish along with chunks of braised turnips. The sauce was a mixture of a special curry mixture and sea urchin. Sticks of turnip pickles are the garnish. A little galette of avocado and turnip cream was served alongside. I thought this was quite different from the two previous courses in that the unusual ingredient combinations and the turnip theme had a purpose and so they were all working to create a very substantial, interesting dish.

Infusion gélifiée de concombre et fenouil, mousse de citron et lait Ribot ;
pulpe glacée de tamarillo.
Cuir de veau au sésame noir.

This dish at this point was surprising, even for Pierre Gagnaire. A gel of cucumber and fennel is covered with a mousse of lemon and buttermilk. I think he was trying to create the effect of the old trou normand, a shot or sorbet of calvados served between the seafood and the meat to aid the digestion, cleanse the palate and perk up the appetite. The dish had a pleasant tartness and nice clean flavors. 

Fines aiguillettes de canard Pékin à la goutte de sang ; sauce onctueuse
au café.
Salade d’oignons doux de Roscoff et salsifis enrobés d’un sirop
de betterave rouge au campari.
Chair d’aubergine émulsionnée, suc de clémentine.

Pieces of duck breast in a rich coffee sauce were accompanied by salsify in a beet root/Campari sauce and a purée of sweet Breton onions. The plate was unpleasantly rich and heavy. Alongside was a bowl of a good eggplant/tangerine jelly. If the previous dish was supposed to have set me up for this after six courses, it didn’t work.

Morbier frotté de savagnin, gelée d’hibiscus aux raisins blonds.
Gruyère d’alpage et Echourgnac, rave aux noix pilées.
Tome de chèvre de l’Ariège enfermée dans une datte medjoul.

The cheese course (from left to right):
Alpine Gruyère and a cheese made by nuns in the valley of the Dordogne served with turnip greens and crushed walnuts;
a goat cheese enclosed in a date purée;
a creamy cheese marinated in a white wine served on a bed of hibiscus jelly and golden raisins.
This is pure Pierre Gagnaire: exoticism and complication for no evident purpose. Nonetheless, the components were each enjoyable in their own ways and the exploration was more fun than selecting cheeses off a cart.

Le grand dessert Pierre Gagnaire.

On the left is a mango jelly with quince and lassi, an Indian yoghurt concoction. The tidbit on the right trailing red was made from beetroot.

I don’t remember what these were, but they were good.

Finally, coffee mousse topped with chocolate and chocolate coated coffee ice cream.

It was a mistake to go back to Pierre Gagnaire on this trip to Paris, even though it is our favorite restaurant there. It was our third time in twenty-two months. That is too often; the magic wears off; one gets too analytical. But I wonder how long we can stay away.

To see our last two blogposts on Pierre Gagnaire click here.

The Pierre Gagnaire website:

One Response to “Pierre Gagnaire, Paris 4”

  1. barbara Says:

    I just warmed myself a little enjoying your most recent trip to Pierre Gagnaire. Nice way to enjoy a 10 degree day in Ohio.
    Thank You !

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